Yamaha MusicCast WX-030 Review

It’s unusual for us to take a look at a portable speaker here on Audio Appraisal, as usually such products neither offer high fidelity sound nor features that differ them from their counterparts of which there are a great many. The Yamaha MusicCast WX-030, however, is an exception to the rule. Designed to form part of Yamaha’s MusicCast multi-room system, the WX-030 is a Wi-Fi enabled bluetooth speaker offering multi-source streaming capabilities and 30W of DSP-controlled class D amplification in a tiny package designed to blend seamlessly into any surrounding.

Of course, the WX-030 can be used as a stand-alone speaker, as can everything in the MusicCast product range. Bluetooth is onboard, as is Apple AirPlay, DLNA 1.5, vTuner internet radio and compatibility with a host of streaming services including Spotify Connect, Juke and Napster, depending on your country of residence.

A sound enhancer boosts the treble, thickens up the mid range and enhances the bass to get the best from low-resolution audio streams and compressed audio files. High-res formats are supported too, including WAV, FLAC and AIFF up to 24-bit, 192kHz and ALAC up to 24-bit, 96 kHz. Lossless formats including MP3, WMA, M4A and AAC are also of course supported.

The free MusicCast control app, available for iOS and Android, lets you connect the WX-030 to your network and have it form part of a MusicCast multi-room audio system. Content can be streamed from one device to another or to multiple devices simultaneously in link mode, and the app gives full control over the speaker including its volume and sound settings.

The WX-030 outputs 30W at 10% THD, with a pair of drivers separating bass and treble frequencies, and a passive radiator to improve the bass response down to 60HZ. As the WX-030 is a mono speaker, you can configure 2 of them to act as a stereo pair. 1 Speaker handles each of the left and right channels, and operating the controls of 1 speaker via the MusicCast app will operate the other. AirPlay is not supported when using a stereo pair.

Highly efficient class D amplification means the WX-030 consumes a maximum of 10W when in use, dropping to just 0.5W in standby when the network and bluetooth standby modes are disabled. However as you’ll likely be using the app to control the power status of the speaker, you’ll want to leave at least the network standby mode enabled. In this mode, connected to a wireless network, the WX-030 will draw a minimal 2W. The WX-030 also features an auto standby mode which will turn the power off after 20 minutes of inactivity.

Technically speaking, the WX-030 is compatible with the IEEE 802.11A/B/G/N 2.4GHZ wifi protocols. Wifi security (WEP, WPA2-PSK (AES), and Mixed Mode) are all supported. Bluetooth 2.1+EDR supports the A2DP and AVRCP protocols, and is compatible with the SBC and AAC codecs with a maximum communication range of 10 m (32.8 ft). As with all MusicCast products, the WX-030 can also transmit audio via bluetooth to any Bluetooth-compatible device, such as another Bluetooth speaker or a pair of wireless headphones.

In the box, you’ll find the speaker itself along with a lengthy figure of eight power cable, a cover to hide the cables beneath, some documentation and a set of 4 sticky pads to reduce vibration when the speaker is wall mounted. The speaker itself features a mesh grille that wraps around at the sides, and a rubber foot beneath to keep it from sliding on a table top or other surface. at just 243 mm x 157 mm x 113 mm (W x H x D) it’ll fit just about anywhere.

The top hosts 4 touch sensitive controls including those for volume, play/pause and power/connect, which when held for a period of three seconds is used to initiate a connection with the MusicCast app, indicated by the simultaneous flashing of the network and Bluetooth LEDs. Three indicators along the angled edge of the front panel show the power, bluetooth and network status. They’ll also flash if the volume reaches its maximum level or to confirm the status of the network and bluetooth standby settings, both of which are altered by holding the top controls.

Around back, you’ll find both power and 10/100 base-TX ethernet jacks hidden in a recessed portion at the bottom. All MusicCast products can be used in extend mode, whereby they are connected to the router via a wired connection, and can be used to extend the wifi signal to out of range devices. You’ll also find a pair of rubber covers on the back panel, which can be removed to expose 2 screw hooks to hang the speaker on the wall. There’s a threaded hole that can be used with a hanging bracket should you require a more secure or permanent installation.

Setup is as simple as a quick touch of the power button to bring the WX-030 out of standby, at which point the MusicCast app can be launched which will guide you through the process of connecting the WX-030 to your network. I covered the app extensively in my review of the CD-NT670D so we won’t delve into it here as the functionality is largely consistent across all models. There’s also a web-based configuration page which can be accessed by typing the IP address of the speaker into a web browser. The page offers the ability to alter network settings, update the firmware, set an Airplay password and rename the speaker.

The sound is impressive for a portable speaker. The bass is surprisingly powerful given the small drivers contained within, no doubt thanks to the passive radiator. It’ll get pretty loud too, though the sound does become a little harsh at the highest volume levels, around the final 5% of the volume scale. Treble is good too with plenty of detail. The mid range is a little relaxed by default, but that can be altered within the app. Overall it’s a very pleasant listen. It’s easy to forget you’re listening to a mono speaker, and while it may not be the most powerful speaker around there’s more than enough power available to comfortably fill most rooms.

In summary, the WX-030 would be an excellent desktop speaker even without the compatibility with the MusicCast system. It offers a number of convenient features including internet radio, DLNA streaming, Bluetooth and AirPlay. Its compact size makes it the perfect speaker to hide on a shelf or display on the wall. And it’s so simple to setup, you’ll be up and running within minutes of removing it from the packaging. The fact that it can form part of a high quality multi-room audio system is the icing on the cake. Highly recommended.

By Ashley

I founded Audio Appraisal a few years ago and continue to regularly update it with fresh content. An avid vinyl collector and coffee addict, I can often be found at a workbench tinkering with a faulty electronic device, tweaking a turntable to extract the last bit of detail from those tiny grooves in the plastic stuff, or relaxing in front of the hi-fi with a good album. A musician, occasional producer and sound engineer, other hobbies include software programming, web development, long walks and occasional DIY. Follow @ashleycox2

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